Football coach Barry Bennell found guilty of abusing more than 20 boys dies aged 69
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Barry Bennell, a football coach who was found guilty of abusing more than 20 boys at top football clubs, has died at the age of 69 while serving his sentence.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Prisoner Barry Bennell died at HMP Littlehey on September 16.
“As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate.”
He was also linked to a number of teams in counties around the northwest of England and beyond, including Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire.
He was first jailed in the US in 1994, where he was sentenced to four years for abusing a British boy during a football camp in Florida.
A broader picture of the levels of his abuse was brought to the public’s attention in 1997 after Dispatches released a film called Soccer’s Foul Play.
Bennell was then jailed for nine years after admitting to 23 offences that dated all the way back to the 1970s.
In 2015, Bennell pleaded guilty to enticing a child under 14 to commit an act of gross indecency, a case dating from the early 1980s.
For that, he was jailed for a further two years.
Other victims have come forward since then, with some detailing how their grooming and abuse at the hands of Bennell started at the age of just 11 and continued for years afterwards.
At Liverpool Crown Court in 2018, Bennell was convicted of another 50 sexual offences against 22 children.
During that sentencing, the judge described him as the ‘devil incarnate’ and handed down a 30-year jail term, as well as describing him as a ‘child molester on an industrial scale’.
Judge Clement Goldstone QC said: "Your behaviour towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil."
He was placed into HMP Littlehey, which houses sex offenders.
In 2020, that sentence was increased by four years after he was convicted of abusing two more boys.
One of Bennell’s victims said: "Not a day goes by without thinking about the abuse I suffered.
“I loved football and like most boys it was my dream to play professionally.
“My dreams were shattered and I often think what could have been.
"I often thought of ending my own life but I didn't, knowing the shame it would bring on my family."